Once in a 100 years Tight Rope Walk over Niagara Falls Soon

Old Fashioned Tight Rope Act over Niagara Falls. Photo obtained from Niagara Parks website.

Niagara is getting excited

The first man to walk a high wire over Niagara Falls in 100 years is scheduled to do his stunt on June 15, 2012.  He will walk across on a giant 2-inch cable that is attached to two cranes –one side in the USA and the other side in Canada. Thirty-three year old Nik Wallenda, a 7th generation stunt performer, will attempt this feat.This is a guy who has been on tight ropes since two years old. He recently hung from a helicopter by his jaw and has walked on the outside of a Ferris wheel in motion. From what I hear, Wallenda has been practicing his walk for the public in front of the Casino in Niagara Falls, NY.My family members and friends have been gathering to see him.

History of Niagara daredevils

The first man ever to cross over The Falls on a high wire was daredevil Jean Francois Gravelet, otherwise known as “The Great Blondin” on June 30, 1859. He walked carrying a large pole.This was to be the first of many crossings for Blondin. Sources vary in the number of actual crossings ranging from 8 to 21. He was quite a performer in that his act often included somersaults, wheelbarrows, cooking an omelette, carrying his manager, and head stands.There have been numerous attempts of performers over The Falls since the 1800s.  Some of them have been successful and others have resulted in death. One of the most famous survivors was a 63-year-old school teacher named Annie Taylor who went over in a barrel in 1901. She is buried in the same cemetery as my Walker great grandparents.  

No one has legally attempted a stunt over the last 100 years due to the fact that this has been outlawed by both the United States and Canada. Recently the Niagara Parks Commission has ruled to allow proposals of stunting professionals once every 20 years. This is “In recognition of the role that daredevil performances have played in the rich history and promotion of Niagara Falls. “(obtained from Niagara Parks Commission website).  According to an article today in the Niagara Gazette, the Niagara Falls City council is voting on an amendment to allow vendors to purchase a special license for the event which is expected to bring in millions of dollars. This could be a big boost in tourism for the American side of The Falls, which has suffered from economic hard times over the last generation.

Everyone is trying to get into the act.

Did I ever mention that I was born in Niagara Falls, NY?  Many times I have been asked, “In a barrel?” As a kid, my bus travelled along the Niagara River on my way to school. Don’t even remind me of my nightmares of the Devil’s Hole whirlpool. I remember my grandmother taking me in her old station wagon to pick up my grandfather from work at Union Carbide downtown. This route often involved going up on the Robert Moses Parkway. I remember having a field trip to the Niagara Mohawk power plant that harnessed electricity from the rapids over The Falls.  Those who have frequented my blog thus far know that often I have mentioned this land of my roots, both on the American and Canadian sides.

What does this mean from a Catholic Counselor Lady point of view?

It is exciting to think about this old-fashioned high wire act across Niagara Falls (by the way, to the locals, it is called “The Falls”). It has an almost romantic appeal to the antics of the old days. Yet life in itself can be full of mental high wire acts for many of us. Sometimes we might find ourselves balancing various aspects of our lives. I know that being a mother, a wife, and a professional requires ability to balance responsibilities of each. At times this can appear to be extremely difficult and overwhelming.  How many times are we close to losing our grip? How many times do we wobble?  How many times do we not even try due to the risks?

Sometimes we balance relationships. There are also those who have struggles with issues, challenges, and difficulties of their lives. This may be due to a variety of circumstances such as overcoming addictions, abuse, emotional distress, past trauma, illness, and/or just trying to cope with everyday life. Such can indeed feel like a high wire balancing act with the rapids raging below.

A high wire walk over Niagara Falls is risky. So is life. But obviously some circumstances take on a greater degree of risk. An article appearing in the May 17, 2012 issue of The Niagara Falls Gazette asks, “Is he afraid?”  Nik Wallenda answers, “I’m just doing my job.” We would expect such an answer from those of us who might live an “average sort of life” not from a daredevil.  But truthfully does anyone have an “average” life?  We all have to be brave sometimes.

The Gazette article also addressed whether or not he prays. Wallenda answered, “Very much so – I pray without ceasing.”  I was happy to notice in a recent photo posted by a friend on Facebook that he was wearing a crucifix.

Great advice from someone who lives life dangerously!

This entry was posted in Counseling, Genealogy and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *